IN the midst of this unprecedented health crisis, so much is unknown.

At times like this, we all seek out absolutes, something firm to grasp on to as everything changes so quickly around us – family, friendship, love, and community. I’ve seen great acts of kindness in my neighbourhood to those more isolated than others; in supermarkets, as shelves empty I’ve witnessed sharing by shoppers, and much hard work by staff to help the elderly and vulnerable. And of course, the heroes of the hour, the doctors, nurses and hospital staff, risking their own lives at the centre of this crisis.

But the harsh reality of this coronavirus pandemic is that, although essential, we cannot live on love and common decency alone. The financial implications for the long term are worrying in the extreme. Many countries are taking immediate action to address this enormous problem. In France, Emmanuel Macron announced that the government were suspending gas, electricity and rent payments for small businesses with a promise to ensure that “no single company will go bankrupt”. His concern is to ensure that the coronavirus does not destroy society. He’s got his priorities right.

In New Zealand, the finance minister has announced a $600 million bung for the aviation industry, a new Covid-19 sick pay scheme, wage subsidies, increases in winter energy payments and benefits as part of a $12 billion package.

Over in Denmark, the government, unions and employers’ associations have reached agreement on how to deal with job losses and dramatic cuts in hours worked for the vast majority of employed people in their country. The system works as follows: 75% of wages will be paid by the state and 25% by employers and workers have to forfeit five days’ paid holiday from their yearly allowance.

In Norway, the state has announced full pay for those laid off for 20 days; those who are self-employed get 80% of their average income over the past three years, with a cap of £48,000; and they’ve made allowances to pay carers of Covid-19 patients. Sweden has much the same plan, with a package of £25bn announced to protect workers. In Scotland, we’re lucky to have such talent as Kate Forbes, our new Finance Secretary. She has announced a £320m support package to limit the impact of coronavirus on businesses in Scotland including grants of at least £3000 for small businesses. She will also be asking the UK Government for additional resources to provide support given the large number of SMEs in Scotland.

As of 5pm last night, the UK Government has promised to do “whatever it takes” to get through this crisis. It feels like they have finally woken up to the horror of this pandemic with a pledge from Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action on a scale unimaginable a few weeks ago with an unprecedented package of government-backed loans of £330bn pounds, equivalent to 15% of our GDP, with more provided to match capacity. Support will be delivered through new lending facilities and new legal powers within the Covid-19 Bill to meet future challenges, as well as three-month mortgage holidays to those financially compromised by the coronavirus and business rates holidays extended to all those in retail, hospitality and leisure. In addition, devolved administrations will get £3.5bn in Barnett consequentials to bolster their own schemes.

READ MORE: Chancellor unveils £330bn worth of support for business and homeowners

It’s unclear what will happen to those living in the rental sector and it’s unclear about how businesses will pay off these large loans in the future. In these insecure times, it won’t be reassuring for businesses to get further into debt. Meanwhile, people are losing their jobs in real time, with Carphone Warehouse, for instance, announcing major job cuts just yesterday. Where is the help for the self-employed and those in the gig economy? And two words: sick pay. There are glaring holes in their announcement.

Thankfully, Johnson and Sunak realise this is an evolving crisis and new support must be made available. Let’s hope this new “Crisis Conservatism” accepts the necessity of a universal wage in the coming days, perhaps even the return of nationalised industries. It’s certainly a shift from their austerity measures and innate individualism, but will it be enough? Not if they don’t address people’s personal circumstances and as fast as possible.

The UK Government has been desperate to do the Covid-19 crisis its own way. So far, so much criticism and extreme changes of tack. But in times of formidable uncertainty and danger like this, perhaps the best ideas are closer to home than they think. Time for Johnson and Sunak to take a look at New Zealand, Denmark, and dare we say it, even the French. After all, even Johnson has admitted that “the buck stops” with him. Let’s hold him to it.